Congress at the Centenary International Labour Conference 10 – 21 June 2019

24 May 2019

Centenary ILO Logo

Centenary International Labour Conference 10 – 21 June 2019

From June 10th to 21st I will have the privilege to represent the Irish Congress of Trade Unions at the Centenary conference of the International Labour Organisation.  Congress Vice President, Kevin Callinan will also be present for a portion of the conference. It will be quite an occasion with many heads of state visiting (including a visit from the Pope… allegedly).  Minister Pat Breen T.D. will address the plenary on afternoon Wednesday 12th.  However, behind all the pomp and ceremony in the plenary hall of the place des nations in Geneva there will be serious work from early morning to late at night in other rooms.

I myself will be involved in the second year and final discussion with Governments and Employers to agree a new ILO Convention and Recommendation on violence and harassment in the world of work. This is the culmination of years of campaigning by the trade union movement and we will be striving to ensure a strong and effective Convention, supplemented by a recommendation.  Hopefully the centenary year of the ILO will be marked by the agreement of this new Convention on a topic that marks its relevance and importance in a world exposed by the #MeToo movement.  And you can help - if you have good examples of work done to tackle violence and harassment, please fill out this short Human Rights Watch survey.  Worker representatives rely on real-world experiences during these negotiations. We are trying to gather examples of solutions—however small or big—where employers have made good efforts to prevent and respond to violence and harassment at work. These examples are critical for the final negotiations and the deadline is 3 June.

Another team of worker representatives will be negotiating with Governments and Employers on an ILO Declaration  on the future of work.  The social contract is broken, and with the major challenges in the world of work relating to climate and new technology, a strong and relevant ILO Declaration is needed.  You can help here too by signing a petition in support of the Declaration in advance of the conference here.

A key part of the preparations for the ILO Centenary was the publication of the report of the High Level Commission on the Future of Work. The Commission’s report “Work for a Brighter Future” sets out a human-centred agenda for a decent future of work and will inform the discussions.  Trade unions will be using the discussions to seek a new ILO Declaration which will include:

  • Recognition of the social deficits of the current economic system and the need for a human-centred agenda based on revitalisation/renewal of the social contract;
  • Recognition that inequalities are growing and the employment relationship is being eroded as well as other global challenges including climate change, new technologies, demographic trends and the impact of new forms of businesses.
  • Endorsement of the Universal Labour Guarantee, which applies to all workers regardless of the status of their employment relationship, including: freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining and protection from discrimination and forced labour and the elimination of child labour; the right to safe and healthy work, an adequate living wage and maximum limits on working hours.
  • Reaffirming that full, sustainable and decent employment must be a central policy objective nationally and internationally.
  • Recognition of health and  safety at work as a fundamental principle and right at work.

The full breifing documents for the Workers Group are available here.

If you are interested in keeping in touch, I will be tweeting from @Djoyce18 and the hashtag for the conference will be #ILO100

David Joyce